Baer also suggests examining how you view yourself compared with how you view others. He refers to John 13, where Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. “How could the Son of God wash feet? He had a healthy view of Himself and others.” Jesus knew who He was, where He came from and where He was going. In the freedom of that knowledge, he provided a profound example of servant leadership.

There are many ways to show servant leadership in the marketplace. Here are some ideas that Tom Lutz, founder of Vision Planners, which assists visionary Christian leaders to create solutions to advance visions across America, has found effective:

  • Know the name of every person in the organization and talk to them frequently, even those who do what you might consider an insignificant task such as cleaning. “How can I help [the cleaning lady] be the best? By thanking her. If you take that role out, what happens? Understand how it fits.”
  • Understand what people can and can’t do. Don’t give them a job they will fail at.
  • Listen to just complaints. Hold town hall meetings.
  • Teach people the significance of the role they play, that they are performing a function valuable to the organization.

Jones, in her Four Elements of Success, includes specific action steps such as:

  • Know your own mission and clearly articulate the vision so people are excited.
  • Coach people, rather than being the boss. Free them by lifting obstacles out of their way.

When we begin to understand and practice servant leadership, we may be surprised how many more ideas will come our way. As we go, we can ask Jesus, who was the true embodiment of the concept, to inspire and guide us to make a difference in the marketplace and, ultimately, in people’s lives. After all, that’s what Jesus was all about.

Other helpful resources include:

1. Marketplace Leaders, founded by Os Hillman, helps men and women fulfill God's call on their lives by understanding the role faith plays in their workplace calling.

2. Good to Great by Jim Collins (HarperBusiness). One of the best leadership books ever written, according to Mike Baer. Collins’ concept of Level 5 Leadership describes servant leadership in detail.


Excerpt from an article that first appeared in The Lookout, May 15, 2005. © LeAnne Benfield Martin. Used with permission from the author.

Freelance writer LeAnne Benfield Martin has been published in many Christian magazines. She enjoys writing and speaking about many topics, especially the arts and the beauty around us. Check out her blog on Christians in the Arts at www.leannebenfieldmartin.com.